Package ‘patchwork’

Operators defined in package ‘patchwork’ can be used to combine multiple plots created with package ‘ggplot2’ or extensions to it, such as my own ‘ggpmisc’ and ‘ggspectra’. (The site ggplot2 extensions showcases at the moment more than 40 extensions to ‘ggplot2’.)

Package ‘patchwork’ has been developed by Thomas Lin Pedersen, and being relatively new, it is not yet in CRAN. It can be installed from the public Git repository at Github.

# install.packages("devtools")
devtools::install_github("thomasp85/patchwork")

The ‘ggplot2’ package provides a strong API for sequentially building up a plot, but does not concern itself with composition of multiple plots. ‘patchwork’ is a package that expands the API to allow for arbitrarily complex composition of plots by providing mathmatical operators for combining multiple plots. Other packages that address this need (but with a different approach) are ‘gridExtra’ and ‘cowplot’.

From the package’s DESCRIPTION.

Package ‘ggspectra’ provides function multiplot() for this purpose, but this function is minimalistic, with its most important handicap in its inability to independently align the plotting areas and axis labels of the composed plots.

An example using the operators / and & from ‘patchwork’ follows.

library(ggspectra)
library(patchwork)
p <- autoplot(sun.spct) / 
  autoplot(polyester.spct, range = c(280, 800)) / 
  autoplot(sun.spct * polyester.spct)
png("three-plots.png", height = 800, width = 600)
print(p) & theme_bw()
dev.off()

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